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New Hampton woman nearly victim of phone scam; Rite Aid clerk saves the day

NEW HAMPTON — A local woman nearly fell victim last week to what police call the "grandmother" scam — or when fraudsters pose as grandchildren in trouble and call an unsuspecting elderly person looking for money.

In this woman's case, she said she received a phone call last Friday from someone pretending to be her grandson. He told her that he had been in a car accident in Las Vegas, that the person he hit was in the hospital, and that a lawyer needed $35,000 to represent him in court.

The woman said she got a second call from someone pretending to be an attorney who gave her a name and a phone number. She said she and the fake attorney haggled on the phone and he finally agreed to have her send $150 through Western Union at the Laconia Rite Aid.

When she went to Rite Aid, the clerk stopped her and told her it was a scam. After learning that it was a scam, the woman called her daughter who lives in Washington State who said her grandson was fine and hadn't recently been in Las Vegas.

Area police said local residents, primarily the elderly, are routinely targeted by these kinds of scams.

Gilford Det. Sgt. Chris Jacques leads most of the investigations into these types of incidents in his community and said there are some things victims or near victims can do.

Initially, he said it should be reported to the local police. He said if the victim didn't loose any money, as in this case, the police likely won't investigate it themselves but will enter any phone numbers or names given to the potential victim into a data base that is monitored by federal fraud agencies.

"Once a number or or a name pops up enough times, the fraud unit usually begins an investigation," he said.

Jacques also said that no one should send any money to a foreign county. In the New Hampton woman's case she was asked to send the money to the Dominican Republic.

He said there are also websites where victims and potential victims can record any potential fraud information. He recommended those targeted by internet scams should go to www.IC3.gov which is a clearing house site operated jointly by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Bureau. For phone calls, he said the home page of the Federal Trade Commission has links to help people report scams.

"If its a popular enough e-mail address it will raise alarms," he said.

Det. Sgt. Thomas Swett of Laconia said city police have been working to educate drug store employees and bank employees to take notice when customers come in asking to wire money to different places under unusual circumstances.

He said he was grateful that the team at the Laconia Rite Aid was able to stop this woman from loosing any money and noted that once the money is gone it is almost impossible to recover it.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 May 2014 01:05

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Briarcrest Estates' residents close on $10 million purchase of their park

LACONIA — The residents of Briarcrest Estates, organized as the Lakemont Cooperative, Inc., have purchased the manufacturing housing from its owners Mark and Ruth Mooney for $10-million in a transaction that closed yesterday in Concord.

The acquisition was financed by TD Bank, which underwrote 80-percent of the purchase price, with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund lending the balance. The manufactured housing park became the 108th in the state to convert to cooperative ownership with assistance and funding from the Community Loan Fund since 1984 when residents in Meredith purchased their park.

With 241 units, Briarcrest is the third largest cooperatively owned in the state.

Last July the Mooneys accepted a $10 million offer from Hometown America. But, state law requires park owners, upon receiving an offer, to "consider any offer received from the tenants or a tenants' association" and to "negotiate in good faith with the tenants concerning a potential purchase." Tenants representing a minority of the 241 units formed the Lakemont Cooperative and presented a matching offer. The Mooneys, with the support of a majority of tenants who prefer commercial to cooperative ownership, asked the Belknap County Superior Court to approve the sale to Hometown America, but in January withdrew their suit.

"That was the turning point," said Jim Cowan, president of the Lakemont Cooperative.

"I was very doubtful about a positive outcome," said Joe McCarthy, secretary of the cooperative. "The board was met with some pretty stiff resistance from other residents and the owner, but with determination and persistence we stuck together and prevailed. I rank the experience of the last eight months as one of the most gratifying achievements in my seven decades on this planet," he continued, thanking his fellow board members and the Community Loan Fund for their support and assistance throughout the process.

Cowan said that seven members of the board of the cooperative will be elected at the annual meeting in June. Four members will be elected for two-terms and three for one-terms in order to ensure an experienced quorum. He said that he intends to seek re-election as president.

As a cooperatively owned park, residents own not only the building they live in but also the land it sits on, which provides them with the common benefits of home ownership, including conventional mortgage terms, appreciation in value and access to equity loans. At the same time, they are protected against excessive increases in rents as well as the sale closure of the park, said Community Loan Fund officials

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:56

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Commission says lawmakers won't give jail plan a fair hearing

LACONIA — Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), chairman of the Belknap County Jail Planning Committee, told his fellow commissioners when they met yesterday at the Belknap County Complex that he thinks any attempt to bring a request for a supplemental appropriation for a $2.96 million bond issue for three major priorities at the county jail before the current Belknap County Convention would be an exercise in futility.
''After Monday night's meeting (at which the Convention rejected a proposed collective bargaining agreement for employees of the Belknap County Nursing Home by a 9-7 vote) I can see no indication they're prepared for a rational discussion of this issue'' said Philpot, who indicated that the commissioners would have to wait until after this fall's election and it has a new convention to deal with.
The committee wants $360,000 so that it can begin work on a schematic design plan for a new jail, $1 million for replacing the HVAC system at the current jail and $1.6 million for a three-year contract for installation of a 48-bed temporary housing unit at the jail.
''It's sad. We're kicking the can down the road much too far, but I don't know what else we can do. We have a convention that does not speak to us and won't have a conversation with people who have been working on this for five years to come up with a solution. Their minds are made up and they are going to say no to anything we ask for,'' said Philpot.
The decision by the jail committee to support a supplemental appropriation came at it's April 15 meeting after a discussion of priorities during which Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward said that all three elements are all badly needed.
He said at that meeting that the schematic design ''keeps us moving'' on the process of designing a new facility while the HVAC system is needed to improve air quality for both inmates and staff in the three or more years it will take before a new facility can be built. He said the temporary housing will enable the county to keep inmates in the county, where they can continue to receive needed services, while at the same time providing additional program space during the construction period.
The committee has been looking at ways to bring the cost of a new facility to below $30 million for a proposed 94,000-square-foot, 180-bed community corrections facility, which carried a conceptual design estimate cost of $42.6 million.
Fellow commissioners Steven Nedeau (R-Meredith) and John Thomas (R-Belmont) said they were equally reluctant to pursue any request to the convention for a supplemental appropriation as they see no likelihood that it will get a fair hearing.
Nedeau said it was evident from the way the convention majority handled the request for a $336,170 supplemental appropriation for a contract the commissioners had supported for nursing home employees what the outcome was going to be. ''That's not going to change. It's sad to stop what we've been working on for so long.''
Thomas said that from his perspective the contract vote on Monday night shows how little the county convention majority values county workers. ''The delegation doesn't understand anything about employees,'' adding that the recent formation of a fourth union of county workers shows people who work for the county feel ''they need to protect themselves.''
Norm O'Neill, who earlier this month announced that he was stepping down from his $94,000 a year job as Belknap County Human Resources Director, suggested that as a citizen watching the dynamics of the whole process that it might be a good idea to bring in someone from the outside to facilitate a discussion between commissioners, the jail planning committee and the county convention on the jail issue.
Philpot said that the idea was a good one and that he would be amenable to changing his mind if such a process could be started and their was a willingness by both sides for a meaningful discussion.
Ken Brace, a member of the Jail Planning Committee, said that he hoped the process could continue and that the committee could get out the information it needs to convince people of the need for a new jail built along the lines recommended by the committee.
Brace said that the committee should not go the convention's May 27 meeting with a proposal unless it was invited by the convention.
He also said that it was his gut feeling that the convention would say no to any contract which the commissioners presented to them until they got their way on increasing employee contributions on health insurance, one of the major issues raised by the county convention majority when it rejected the proposed contract Monday night.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 May 2014 02:52

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Gilmanton has to redo fire truck vote

GILMANTON — Because of an error in the ordering of the 2014 warrant articles at March's SB-2 vote, voters will have to return to the polls to vote again on the five-year lease/purchase of a $469,000 fire truck.

Town Administrator Arthur Capello said yesterday the article needs to be voted on again because it is a capital expenditure that requires long-term borrowing and should have been the first article after the zoning articles on the ballot. What should have been article number 7 ended up as article number 18.

The truck will be paid by removing $190,000 from a fire truck capital reserve account with lease payments of $60,848 annually beginning in 2015. He said the payments beginning in 2015 will become part of the operating budget.

At the March 11 election, voters supported the fire truck lease purchase by a vote of 563 for to 325 against — meeting the 2/3 majority vote necessary for the article to pass.

Capello said there will be a public hearing on the article on May 6 at 7:30 p.m. The deliberative session will be May 13 in the Academy Building at 6 p.m. and the vote will be June 10 — also a the Academy Building.

A 2/3 majority vote will still be needed for passage.

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:33

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